So, it's time for a baby shower. Most likely, the mom-to-be will receive some predictable things: onesies, cotton receiving blankets, cute baby 'outfits,' best-selling board books (Goodnight Moon or Very Hungry Caterpillar), and possibly a few other things she requested on her registry.
All of these are somewhat useful, but most moms-to-be end up with too many predictable SOMEWHAT useful things and not enough TRULY USEFUL AWESOME things. I think non-parents stick to what's familiar and cute, and parents of older children sometimes just plain forget what was ESSENTIAL when they had a baby in the house. So, if you want to offer a stand-out gift, here are some ideas for unique and super useful gifts ...
Practical baby clothing
Sure, those outfits are cute. And they might get put on baby once or twice for photos, but baby needs everyday clothes too -- lots of them, since babies spit up, pee, etc. The most practical clothes for babies are soft, cotton garments that are easy to put on and take off. Look for items that snap at the crotch and have 'lap' neck holes: onesies, t-shirts, full-body sleepers, soft pants. Avoid anything complicated or too stiff for a small baby (overalls, baby jeans, shirts with lots of decoration). My favorite items for our son were from quality clothing from Carter's, Zutano, and American Apparel -- they were all well designed, cute and colorful, easy to use and washed up well. Here are some suggested items:
Newborns won't care much for toys, but soon enough baby will want some fun things to hold in his hands (and Mom will want some safe things to give to him when that happens). Here are some fun first toys for baby:
There are many things a mom-to-be knows she will need (car seat, for example), but as a first-time mom there were things I didn't realize I'd need until someone gave them to me. Most notably, a Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe Microfleece, Small, Ivory. I thought I'd be able to swaddle my baby in a blanket, but it turns out he was too wriggly for that! The SwaddleMe saved us -- swaddling our son gained extra hours of sleep every night, and we were so grateful to have received it! Another thoughtful sleep related gift: Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine, White.
Especially for the first-time mom, life changes completely after having the baby! It's easy to lose focus on herself in this time of change, but she will need some attention too -- her body will be recovering from birth; she may be learning how to nurse; she will have less time to herself than she ever imagined; and she will be renegotiating her relationship with her partner. Consider giving mom-to-be some thoughtful gifts that are JUST for mom and especially suited to helping her get through this transition in her life.